What do you do with the vocabulary that comes up in a lesson?
Where do you write it on the board?
Many teachers keep an incidental vocabulary column at the side of the board and this can have many advantages. Compartmentalising the board space allows the teacher to leave the vocabulary there for the remainder of the lesson so they and their students can refer to it throughout the class. The rest of the space can be used, cleaned and reused as necessary.
Here is an example of how an incidental vocabulary column might look:
Okay, but some tweaks and more thought could make it a more valuable resource for the students. Many learners copy down everything that is written on the board and use it as a record of the class for revision and homework.
1. Write any lexical items in context.
A learner referring to their notes a week after class has more chance of remembering the items if there is a context. ‘My house was burgled last night’ is better than ‘burgle (vb)’.
2. Use a colour code.
This can be as simple as just using a different colour to highlight pronunciation features or dependent prepositions. I have heard of using a different colour for different parts of speech but this seems a little complicated.
3. Highlight troublesome sounds.
Rather than transcribing the whole item into phonemic script, it is easier for the teacher and perhaps more useful for the student if just the troublesome sound is highlighted. Rather than burglar /ˈbɜːglɘ/, perhaps just highlighting the /ɜː/ is more useful for the students, or for the verb steal, just highlighting the vowel sounds in the different forms.
4. Use bubbles to mark syllables and word stress.
This is very visual for the students. In addition to marking the main stressed syllable, it can also be useful to mark the other syllables.
E.g. for a word like ‘arrested’, the pattern o O o can be written above the word. When placing these bubbles, I find it is clearest if the bubbles are above the vowel sound in the syllable.
5. Use substitution tables.
I believe this is called a substitution table, but please let me know if I am mistaken. These can be really useful to highlight collocations or synonyms.
Putting it all together, this is how the incidental vocabulary column might look at the end of a lesson:
This can then be used for a quick review at the end of the class.
1. Erase the words, leaving just the first letter to see if the students can remember the items.
2. Play ‘backs to the board’ but rather than writing words up, simply point to them on the board for the other students to describe to the person in the hot seat.
Has anyone else got any more tweaks?